Hotel marketing has changed quite a bit in the last couple years and it doesn’t look like 2018 will be any different. Whether you decide to dump a hefty budget into online advertising or invest in a creative content marketing strategy, it’s never been more important to show up in the booking process in the right place at the right time. In this post, I’ll highlight a few strategies that focus on delivering the best possible guest experience so you can drive direct bookings and increase revenue.
Growth Driven Design
Growth driven design is for hotels that are in dire need of a new website or a website redesign and are looking to drive more bookings based on primary user data. Put simply, it gets a fully functional website in front of your audience as fast as possible so you can continually learn from the way people interact with it so you can tailor your site to better fit their needs.
This strategy is a long-term plan and flips the traditional web design process upside down. Instead of handing off your site project to a developer then getting back a final draft months later, growth driven design is a team effort.
It includes your design team, development team, and marketing team to make sure your site performs the way it should and brings the business results you’re looking for.
Once the site is launched, you’ll be able to see how your guests use your site and analyze their behavior so you can optimize for more bookings, and more money. Along with a website, this approach comes along with ongoing hotel marketing services that will empower you to create the best guest experience throughout the booking process.
Inbound marketing fits in perfectly into a growth driven design strategy as it hinges upon creating a valuable user experience for your guests.
Inbound marketing, also known as content or growth marketing, is a strategy that shifts your marketing messages from only focusing on the top of the funnel and delivers value to prospective guests wherever they are in the funnel. It’s an approach that strives to add value to your audience with every guest touch point and empowers you to create a one of a kind guest experience.
Inbound marketing works great for hotels because guests go through quite a bit of research when looking for the right hotel. What is close by? What are the different rooms available? How much does it cost and what is included? All these questions are waiting to be answered, and guests are turning to the internet to find out.
This is where utilizing a blog and other content marketing tactics will help you in 2018. Instead of taking a reactive approach, inbound marketing takes the initiative to answer your prospective guests’ questions before they’re even asked.
Drive home the value. Give them the answers they’re looking for and then some. Anything you can do to exceed the value they expected will position yourself as the right choice for their travels.
Speaking of content, video is one of the biggest hotel marketing trends in 2018. Using video on your hotel’s website and across your social media platforms will catch your guests attention and get them to imagine themselves where the video is being taken.
Video is extremely effective when you pair it with an inbound marketing strategy because it allows you to deliver personalized content to the right people at the right time. If you know one of your prospective guests is on the fence between you and your local competition, send them a personal video highlighting exactly what to expect and any unique value adds you offer that your competition doesn’t.
An inbound video approach hinges on whether you know and understand your guests. To effectively send personalized videos, you need to understand exactly what they’re looking for in a hotel and what their hesitations are. This way, you can reassure them that you’re the right choice and offer the opportunity to book once the video is finished.
Proactive Email Marketing
When it comes to hotel email marketing, too many hotels wait until a guest books a room to send the first email. While it can be difficult to capture a prospective guest’s email address before they book, with a little creativity and effective content marketing, you’ll be able to get this information and deliver specific information before they book a room.
Proactive marketing is the process of going out and empowering your guests to choose your hotel as the right choice. In comparison, reactive hotel marketing waits for the guest to make up their own mind before you reach out. While it’s important to remain reactive to your guests’ behavior and needs, a proactive approach will allow you to set expectations and deliver value from the start.
When you implement this email strategy for your hotel, you’ll be able to deliver contextual information to individuals instead of sending a cookie-cutter “this is your receipt” email. Email is the least expensive marketing channel you can invest in, and when done correctly, the most personalized.
Deliver context. Don’t make them feel like another number in your guest registry. Make them feel welcome before they book so they can choose your hotel with confidence.
As people turn to the internet and social media platforms to make informed purchasing decisions, utilizing social media marketing can be extremely effective for your hotel. Instead of turning straight to your hotel to find the answers, they’re going out to find what other guests have to say about their experience.
While this might be a bit daunting and feel like you have no control over your reputation, you can take advantage of this social proof and promote the positive experiences you provide.
With the right software, you can set up social media monitoring to get notified whenever someone posts about your hotel. This could be a Facebook post, a tweet, an Instagram post, as well as other reviews people leave. It’s important that you respond to these shout-outs, but to really make them work for your hotel, you can take it a step further.
Reach out personally to the people who have recently had a great experience with your hotel. Ask them if you could use their image or review on your page or website. Most people will be open to getting the exposure and it will make them feel like you’re listening to them.
Social proof works because 88% of people trust online reviews just as much as a recommendation from one of their personal connections. Embrace the power of the people and turn to them to help you promote a one of a kind guest experience.
Even if you choose to go with a strategy not mentioned in this post, it’s important that you keep your guests at the center of your hotel marketing. This way you can drive value from the research process to the moment they share their experience on social media.
Aim to deliver a unique experience they won’t be able to get anywhere else. Meet them where they are to answer their questions and empower them to choose you as the right hotel. Remember, you don’t sell a product or a service, you sell an experience.